London, Apr 14 (AP/UNB) — Prince Harry and Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex, may be keeping plans about their impending baby under wraps, but that hasn't stopped everyone in Britain from trying to guess the gender and the name of their first child.
If Britain's bookmakers are to be believed, it's definitely a girl — and Diana may well be one of her many names.
The William Hill agency closed the betting on the baby's gender a few days ago after an "avalanche" of bets poured in from people convinced the royal couple is having a girl.
"The secret's out, as far as we're concerned," firm spokesman Rupert Adams said. "It could be because someone somewhere has seen the scan, or someone has heard something."
While Adams acknowledged there's always a chance the surge was based on nothing, he said average betting patterns over the years suggest there's usually some truth in rumors.
So far, Diana is topping the bookmakers' list as a front-running name — William Hill has put the odds at 4/1. Victoria, Alice, Grace and Elizabeth are close behind, while Albert, Arthur and James are popular guesses for a boy.
"A ridiculous number — 80% of bets taken — are for the name Diana," Adams said. He said he personally doubts Harry would choose a name that so directly evokes his iconic mother's tragic death in 1997 but added: "There's every chance of it being a middle name."
Carolyn Harris, a royal historian who teaches at the University of Toronto's School of Continuing Studies, agrees that Diana could be a middle name. That's what Harry's brother, Prince William, and his wife Kate did for their daughter, Princess Charlotte (the 3-year-old's full name is Charlotte Elizabeth Diana).
"The choice of Diana as a first name would place a lot of pressure on the royal baby, as the press would constantly compare her to her famous grandmother," she said.
Harris believes Harry and Meghan may adopt a similar approach to the naming of other recently born royal children lower down the line of succession: Choosing a moniker that's traditional, but one that doesn't frequently appear within the royal family.
She also thinks a possible middle name could be Ruth — after one of Meghan's great-grandmothers, as well as Diana's maternal grandmother, Lady Ruth Fermoy.
Some observers speculate that Meghan, who has long spoken out about women's rights, could go for a name that evokes strong women in history — a theory Harris thinks has substance.
"A name associated with prominent female historical figures in Britain and/or the United States is certainly a possibility," she said. Eleanor, for one, could honor both Eleanor Roosevelt and Eleanor of Aquitaine, queen of England in the 12th century.
Harry and Meghan haven't announced the baby's gender or the due date, which is widely believed to be sometime in late April.
The pair declared Thursday they are keeping the birth private and won't be sharing news about the baby's arrival until they've told family and friends. That has led many to jump to the conclusion that they are planning a home birth at their new residence, Frogmore Cottage, close to Windsor Castle outside of London.
Home birth or not, the scenario will be quite different from the media circus that lasted for days outside the London hospital where their sister-in-law Kate's three children were born. That will significantly dampen the name and gender betting frenzy, according to William Hill, which reported taking "hundreds of bets a minute" every time palace officials announced that Kate had gone into labor.
Whatever name they choose, the new baby will not automatically have the official title of prince or princess. Those titles were given to all three children of William, the eldest son of Prince Charles, heir to the British throne.
Instead, Harry and Meghan's baby is expected to be styled the Earl of Dumbarton if a boy and Lady Mountbatten-Windsor if a girl. That said, the child's great-grandmother, Queen Elizabeth II, could change that if she wants the baby to be a prince or princess.
Harry's first child will be seventh in line for the throne, bumping down Harry's uncle, Prince Andrew.
Some punters have been having a laugh with their royal baby bets. Ladbrokes reported that 2 pounds ($2.60) have been staked on the name Brexit — with odds of 500/1. The name Donald is at 250/1. Meghan, as any reader of British tabloids knows, is no fan of the current U.S. president.
One thing British betting agencies are not seeing: lots of money being placed on quirky, New Age or celebrity-driven, unique monikers.
"Harry is a traditional guy at heart, we think he would like a relatively traditional but not absolutely turgid royal name," Adams said.
"(Meghan) would like to convey herself as regal — we feel she would not go with a weird name like 'Sunshine,'" he added.
"No one is ever really gone," says the voice of Luke Skywalker in the first teaser trailer for "Star Wars: Episode IX," which audiences finally learned will be called "Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker" Friday at a fan event in Chicago.
The closely guarded film from director J.J. Abrams will put an end to the Skywalker saga that began over 40 years ago, but even as characters and actors have passed on, the footage shown at Star Wars Celebration suggests that as with all "Star Wars" films, death is just a technicality a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away.
Mark Hamill's Skywalker may have died at the end of the most recent installment but his voice dominates the teaser trailer, telling someone, possibly Daisy Ridley's Rey, that, "this is your fight now." And audiences got a tantalizing tease from another figure from the past: Emperor Palpatine from the original and prequel trilogies, whose ominous laugh closes out the promotional spot.
Carrie Fisher's Leia Organa is back as well, despite the actress's untimely passing in Dec. 2016, thanks to unused footage from "The Force Awakens" which Abrams was able to craft into its own narrative for this new film.
"You can't just recast and you can't just have her disappear," Abrams said. "The idea of having a CG character wasn't even an option."
He's currently in the process of editing and adding visual effects to the film which will hit theaters on Dec. 20 and said that despite Fisher's death, "We're working with her every day."
"Princess Leia lives in this film in way that is mind-blowing to me," Abrams said.
Abrams was joined on stage at the event by Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and actors and droids alike including Ridley, Oscar Isaac (Poe), John Boyega (Finn), Kelly Marie Tran (Rose), Joonas Suotamo (Chewbacca), newcomer Naomi Ackie, who plays a character named Jannah, Anthony Daniels (C-3PO) and even Billy Dee Williams, who reprises his role as Lando Calrissian in the new film after decades away.
"How did I find Lando again?" Williams said. "Lando never left me."
"Star Wars" superfan Stephen Colbert moderated the panel, doing his best to get the tight-lipped cast and creators to reveal anything about the film. Although no one cracked under pressure, Abrams did reveal some previously known details, like the fact that "The Rise of Skywalker" will pick up "some time" after the events of "The Last Jedi."
"This is an adventure that the group goes on together," he teased, although he wouldn't reveal whether or not that meant the group on stage or some other combination.
"This movie is about this new generation and what they've inherited, the light and the dark," Abrams added. "As they face this greatest evil, are they prepared?"
Besides Hamill, another person who wasn't in attendance was Kylo Ren actor Adam Driver. Ren is the son of Han Solo and Leia, making him and his mother the only known Skywalkers left.
When prodded about what will happen with the complex relationship between Kylo and Rey, Ridley demurred, "I guess the Kylo and Rey thing, we'll have to see."
She added: "I think I can confirm there are no more semi-naked Kylos." That's a reference to the scenes of a shirtless Driver in "The Last Jedi" that surprised fans.
Although fans are salivating for any morsel of information, the panelists stayed as vague as possible, and kept things light-hearted debating questions like "who's a better pilot: Poe or Han" and even taking a break so that the audience could sing an unprompted Happy Birthday to Ridley, who turned 27 on Wednesday.
Kennedy, quoting George Lucas, said however that "Episode IX" is indeed the third act of a three-act structure.
But, predictably, there are still more questions than answers when it comes to "The Rise of Skywalker," especially what will come after.
The Lucasfilm and Disney collaboration has proved to be a lucrative one since Disney purchased the company in 2012 for $4 billion. Disney's first two "Star Wars" films, "The Force Awakens" and "The Last Jedi" and its spinoffs, "Rogue One" and "Solo," have already grossed more than $4.8 billion at the worldwide box office.
As of now, there is a future for "Star Wars" on the big screen, but details are sparse and dates are non-existent. "The Last Jedi" director Rian Johnson is working on a new "Star Wars" trilogy and "Game of Thrones" showrunners D.B. Weiss and David Benioff are also at work on a "movie series."
Lucasfilm is expanding its small screen universe too beyond "The Clone Wars" with the Jon Favreau-directed series "The Mandalorian," which will be available on Disney's streaming service, DisneyPlus, when it launches on Nov. 12, and there will be a "Rogue One" spinoff series focused on Diego Luna's character Cassian Andor. With the company's acquisition of 21st Century Fox's entertainment properties, too, Lucas' original trilogy and prequels will also be available on the service.
But who's got time to think about the future when there are over two minutes of brand new footage from "The Rise of Skywalker" to dissect?
Dhaka, Apr 12 (UNB) - A discussion followed by a cultural programme was held in the city on Friday on the occasion of Iranian New Year Nowruz and Bangla New Year.
Iran Cultural Centre and Bangladesh Shilpakala Academy jointly organised the programme at the Shilpakala Academy.
State Minister for Shipping Khalid Mahmud Chowdhury was present at the event as the chief guest while Dr Kazem Kahdouei, Iranian visiting professor at the Persian Language and Literature department of Dhaka University, and Mamunur Rashid, eminent drama director and actor, were present as special guests.
Speakers said Nowruz is one of the oldest and most important festivals of Iranians, which has helped the Iranians build a society where different religions, colours and languages which exists for centuries.
Liaquat Ali Lucky, director general of Shilpakala Academy, presided over the programme.
Cultural performances were presented by students of the DU Persian Language and Literature department and performers of Shilpakala Academy.
San Francisco, Apr 12 (AP/UNB) — Disney raised the curtain on a hotly anticipated video steaming service that's aiming to topple industry pioneer Netflix, once a valuable ally of the Magic Kingdom.
The service, called Disney Plus, has been in the works for more than year, but Thursday marked the first time that the longtime entertainment powerhouse has laid out plans for its attack on Netflix and a formidable cast of competitors, including Amazon, HBO Go and Showtime Anytime.
Disney Plus will roll out in the U.S. on November 12 at a price of $6.99 per month, or $69.99 per year. That's well below the $13 monthly fee Netflix charges for its most popular streaming plan, signaling Disney's determination to woo subscribers as it vies to become a major player in a field that has turned "binge watching" into a common ritual.
Like Netflix, Disney Plus will be free of ads. Subscribers will be able to download all of the shows and movies on Disney's service to watch offline.
Netflix will still have a far deeper video programming lineup after spending tens of billions of dollars during the past six years on original shows such as "House of Cards," ''Stranger Things" and "The Crown."
But Disney Plus will be able to draw upon a library of revered films dating back several decades while it also forges into original programming. Its animated classics, including "Aladdin" and "The Jungle Book" will be available on the service when it launches.
New shows already on tap include "The Mandalorian," the first live action "Star Wars" series, created by Jon Favreau; a prequel to the "Star Wars" film "Rogue One," starring Diego Luna; a series about the Marvel character Loki, starring Tom Hiddleston; a rebooted "High School Musical" series; and a new documentary series focused on Disney.
Disney is approaching the streaming industry from a "position of strength, confidence and unbridled optimism," CEO Bob Iger said Thursday. Iger has led the company since 2005 and expects to step down when his contract ends in 2021.
The service's entire lineup will cover five categories: Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars and National Geographic.
Although Disney has an enviable track record of producing shows and films that attract huge audiences, its attempt to build its own Netflix is risky. To make the leap, Disney ended a lucrative licensing relationship with Netflix, which had become the video streaming home for its latest films after their theatrical release, as well as many of its TV series and classic movies.
But now movies that came out in 2019, and going forward, will be streamed only on Disney Plus. That includes "Captain Marvel," which came out earlier this year; "Avengers: Endgame," which debuts in late April; and the upcoming "Toy Story 4," live-action movies "The Lion King" and "Aladdin;" and "Star Wars Episode IX."
In many ways, it's hard to compare Netflix with Disney because of the widely different types of shows each offers, said eMarketer analyst Paul Verna.
"The interesting thing is both companies have ended up in the same place, but they've come to it from vastly different backgrounds," he said.
Disney will also contend with a new streaming service from Apple, which is expected to be released in the fall. Apple has not yet said how much its service will cost or when exactly it will launch.
Last month, Disney completed its biggest deal yet with its $71 billion acquisition of Fox's entertainment business. The first 30 seasons of "The Simpsons" will now stream exclusively on Disney Plus.
The Fox takeover helps Disney tighten its control over TV shows and movies from start to finish — from creating the programs to distributing them though television channels, movie theaters, streaming services and other avenues. Disney will also get valuable data on customers and their entertainment-viewing habits, which it can then use to sell advertising.
The Fox deal also gave Disney a controlling stake in Hulu. Iger has said Hulu will continue to offer general entertainment programming while Disney Plus will be focused on family fare.
Along with its strong brand, Disney has the advantage of having a clear strategy for each of its streaming services, Verna said, including Disney Plus, Hulu and ESPN Plus. Disney executives hinted the company would "likely" bundle the three at a discounted price, but declined to give more details.
Terminating its deal with Netflix will cost Disney about $150 million in licensing revenue alone during its current fiscal year ending in September.
Disney is betting its new service will quickly offset that. By dangling a mix of familiar franchises and beloved animated classics, along with original programming, it figures the new service will be irresistible to families, even if they already subscribe to other services. It expects Disney Plus to be profitable during its 2024 fiscal year.
The plunge into video streaming is likely to confront Disney with new challenges. One of the biggest dilemmas will center on how long Disney waits after a new film's theatrical release to make it available on its new streaming service.
Disney said movies would become available on its streaming service only after the traditional theatrical release period and home movie debut, which includes DVDs and purchasing streaming videos. That puts its schedule behind that of some competitors. Netflix films such as the award-winning "Roma" and "The Ballad of Buster Scruggs" have either become available for streaming on the same day or just a few days after their short runs in theaters.
With nearly 140 million worldwide subscribers, Netflix already has proven its mettle while warding off one competitive threat after another in the 12 years since it pivoted from DVD-by-mail rentals to video streaming.
Now, Netflix is locking horns with a company that has been steadily expanding upon its Disney franchise during a shopping spree that has seen it snap up other major studios.
Los Angeles, Apr 10 (AP/UNB) — Lady Diana Spencer, aka Princess Diana, is joining Netflix's "The Crown."
British newcomer Emma Corrin will play the ill-fated future wife of Prince Charles in the drama series.
Corrin's credits include a guest part on the PBS series "Grantchester" and the upcoming projects "Pennyworth" for TV and "Misbehaviour" for the big screen.
In a statement Tuesday, Corrin said she was honored to be joining "The Crown" and called the late Diana an "icon" who remains an inspiration.
Series creator Peter Morgan said Corrin has Diana's youthful innocence and beauty, along with the range to portray her shift from teenage anonymity to fame.
Corrin will join "The Crown" in season four. The drama's third season is due out this year, with the date has yet to be announced.